In this report I will appraise my experience during the first practicum period of
the IFDC Lenguas Vivas Bariloche’s Taller de Práctica Docente subject. This
practice was held at Instituto Primo Capraro, a school in Bariloche with a strong
German influence, and it had to be done with students from fist form, since
kindergarten only has an experimental English workshop.
I will attempt to describe the problems, issues or any other matter that took
place during my practicum, weather they were expected or not, and how these
situations were dealt with.
The first issue I should mention is a self-related situation due to my own
anxiety since this was my first classroom experience as a teacher. I was not only
advised by my tutors to keep the composure, but I also knew that my own
insecurities could generate a major problem in the classroom if uncontrolled.
Children are very sensitive to adult behavior, and quickly adopt a conduct between
the ranges of control we allow them to have. I knew that if I failed to represent a
teacher for the students, they would not follow my queues or directions when
requested. To confront this, I decided to strengthen my relationship with the children
during the observation period. I tried to participate as actively as possible, making
eye contact, asking them to explain things to me –as game rules, or what were they
working on-, calling them by their names and allowing them to ask me things about
myself. My strategy was to become as familiar with them as possible, not only to
facilitate them my future interference with their routine, but also so I would feel
confident enough in this new atmosphere.
Other concern was children behavior. After the observation period this group
seemed quite easy to manage, but either I was too confident or too focused on my
practicum –and not on the class- that the class teacher had to call for attention
several times. Even though I had listed some strategies to call for order, I was not
quick or attentive enough to apply them, so I dare to say that if the teacher had not
been there, children would have become uncontrollable before I had realized. After
my tutor’s observations regarding my first class, I tried to make some adjustments for
the second attempt, and even though I would like to believe I succeeded in making
some improvements, I definitely have still a long way to go. Monitoring students and
keep track of their reactions towards my teaching and the classroom environment is
crucial to keep them engaged and maintain the course organized.
One problem I still have to work on is on knowing my own lesson plan by
heart. During the classes I got lost a couple of times, and realized I have very little
time to conceal those holes. I blame it partly on my own nerves, but I think I definitely
need to find a way to stick to my plan and leave changes for when I consciously want
to do them.
As weak points of my planning, I consider I have to work on transitions
between activities, on blending them and on the scheduling of time. I did not control
the duration of each stage on the first day, and realized that not only I took more time
than I should had, but also that students could feel the length as a negative
influence. On those instances, I immediately switched to the following activity or did a
kinesthetic break. After the first class, my tutor made me notice the lack of intertwine
between activities and topics I had. I do not think I made any relevant improvement
for the next class, but I did try to connect weather and feeling themes, as suggested.
Finally, one problem I could not foresee was the bell ringing out of time, shortening
the class, which caused my final activity to be abruptly interrupted in the fist day, and
my goodbye salute to be rushed on the second day. I believe I should plan a shorter
class for next time, and consider extra activities or talks for the remaining time, in
order to complete the thematic unit in the designated time.
Use of language was another key feature to consider. During the
observations I noticed that the teacher used mostly English, but Spanish would also
come up, especially when it had to do with behavior control or casual comments.
These children can speak some German too, so this language would sometimes
filtrate the conversations to replace English as the “foreign language”. This
interference was not preoccupying, but the extent to which I should use the L1 and
the target L2 was. I tried to exploit English language and visual queues as much as
possible, and despite this methodology was successful, I flounder to get students to
speak more in the target language. Children would answer mainly in Spanish and
sometimes repeat in English after me, but I consider I need to make more emphasis
on having students copy larger chunks of language instead of isolated key words.
This also affected listening comprehension of activities directions, where I came up
to notice I did not check student’s comprehension of my instructions. For the second
class I tried to work on it, and congratulated the students who would repeat my
guidelines in Spanish. Despite that on that occasion all students carried on with the
activity, I still have my doubts on all of them being benefited by this classmate’s
interpretation since I am uncertain that everyone was paying attention to what was
One final comment I would like to leave is regarding the topics used. I was
asked by the teacher to avoid new themes and work on the unit of Goldilocks and the
three bears around family and home. Evidently there was a misunderstanding –
another thing to improve is communication- and I found myself working with basic
rooms within a house, which I learnt on the spot it was a new topic for the children.
Even though I think I manage the situation quite well, not only I realized the lesson
became too challenging and probably discouraging for the students, but I consider
this is something that can not happen again. I felt I was hindering their learning
The original aim of this experience was to put to use the many tools I have
been acquiring during my studying years, and I believe it was quite a successful first
experience. I believe I will treasure this first approach to teaching because despite all
the mistakes and the eventualities, I consider it as having a positive outcome. I will
have to work on my self-confidence, on my planning and scheduling skills, and
strengthen my classroom management strategies. I need to incorporate some
behaviors on my practices and make them natural: call them encouraging production,
checking comprehension, and control over classroom organization. Therefore, even
though the use of resources was coherent with the pedagogical perspective of the
class, I believe it was just enough, and can and must be worked on.
Probably this experience was too simple under the view of the trained eye,
but it worked for me: I found myself in a controlled, safe space, were my concern
could be mainly focused on the lesson without serious consequences on the class.
This allowed me to clearly notice every comment I had from my tutor, and consider
how could I revert these situations in the future.
For my next practicum I have many things to think of and many others I will
be more confident about. Hopefully I will gradually acquire all the necessary abilities
in order to focus on what makes a lesson complete and productive.